Can Introverts (Co) Rule the World?

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They’re sometimes dismissed – usually by extroverts – as “too shy” and not-so-good at speaking up.

Social skills to mix it up in crowds can seem lacking.

When they’re “on point” it can seem like they can falter. They are said to have “issues” when it comes to small talk; not great “speaking on their feet.”

So can introverts (co) rule the world?

The data – it helps to remember – is that introverts make up about 50% of the population with their extraverted friends filling out the balance.

Introverts have a variety of gifts, some seldom appreciated in the quick action, fast retort world we live in, a world it can seem that’s maximized to the talents of extroverts rather than introverts. Susan Cain’s book – Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking – covers the ground on what makes introverts so special.

In my exec coaching practice with individuals – where half my clients are introverts – there are a number of things I usually have introverts get good at as part of a coaching engagement. Here are three:

1 – Focus on what they’re thinking about and what they want to say before a meeting takes place. Since many meetings are predictable, thinking about and writing down key points means you’re likely to speak up and share them.

2 – Ask for materials (agendas, powerpoint presentations, etc.) in advance whenever possible so you can review them and aren’t looking at them cold. Introverts are reflective; getting materials in advance lets you percolate beforehand.

3 – Take improvisation classes if they haven’t. Being good on your feet has mechanical elements that anyone can learn; improv – something that Dan Pink recommends in his latest book To Sell is Human – helps you learn those tricks.

So can introverts (co) rule the world, even one that’s non-stop talking and jabbering?

Sure. All it takes is some work, practice and some decent coaching.

Life Back West is an occasional set of writings focused on ways people, teams and organizations can be both more effective (doing the right thing) and more efficient (doing the right thing well). More about executive, career and team / leadership coaching services can be found at the “About J. Mike Smith and Back West, Inc.” sidebar or the “Hire Me” tab. You can also read an online interview with me at WhoHub.


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